For reasons not entirely certain and yet almost certainly related to high numbers of lemmings in the Canadian Arctic during 2011, thousands of Snowy Owls are visiting the lower 48 states this winter.
The phenomenon was featured on national TV on NBC news, and it has been written about in two good articles, and a classy Cornell Lab video:
So given that wealth of information, I won’t write more about it here.
I’ll simply say that after one failed search, I was fortunate to see an exceptionally white Snowy Owl (the whiteness indicates it’s likely an adult male) on the ocean beach adjacent to Jones Inlet on Long Island during January. (Later, another one came right to my neighborhood at Lazy Point, where it spent some time on Hicks Island.)
A few photos of mine are here on this posting, and on my facebook page I’ve put up an album of a couple dozen photos of the owl, taken in late afternoon as the light changed from golden to pink-and-blue to the indigo of night: